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Negation in Greek: How to Create Negative Sentences

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Ever wondered how to use negation in Greek to create negative sentences?

Then you’re in the right place!

If you prefer expressing your opposition verbally (instead of nodding, for instance), then continue reading.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on negation in Greek and show you how to turn an affirmative sentence into a negative one. In addition, we’ll present you with the most common negation words and phrases, as well as the most popular ways to give a negative response to a question.

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Greek Table of Contents
  1. Turning an Affirmative Sentence into a Negative Sentence
  2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question
  3. Negation Words and Phrases
  4. Double Negatives
  5. Conclusion

1. Turning an Affirmative Sentence into a Negative Sentence

A Woman in a Classroom Writing in Her Notebook

Rumor has it that Greek negation is one of the easiest parts of the language to learn. 

Modifying an affirmative sentence to have a negative meaning can be achieved by simply adding the particle δεν (den) – not before the verb in the indicative mood.

Here are some typical examples:

Affirmative SentenceNegative Sentence
  • Greek: Εγώ κάνω γυμναστική.
  • Romanization: Egó káno yimnastikí
  • Translation: “I exercise.”
  • Greek: Εγώ δεν κάνω γυμναστική.
  • Romanization: Egó den káno yimnastikí
  • Translation: “I don’t exercise.”

Affirmative SentenceNegative Sentence
  • Greek: Η Μαρία διαβάζει κάθε μέρα.
  • Romanization: I María diavázi káthe méra.
  • Translation: “Maria studies every day.”
  • Greek: Η Μαρία δεν διαβάζει κάθε μέρα.
  • Romanization: I María den diavázi káthe méra.
  • Translation: “Maria doesn’t study every day.”

Affirmative SentenceNegative Sentence
  • Greek: Θέλω να επισκεφτώ την Ελλάδα.
  • Romanization: Thélo na episkeftó tin Elláda..
  • Translation: “I want to visit Greece.”
  • Greek: Δεν θέλω να επισκεφτώ την Ελλάδα.
  • Romanization: Den thélo na episkeftó tin Eláda.
  • Translation: “I don’t want to visit Greece.”

When it comes to complex sentences, consisting of two or more clauses connected by the conjunction και (ke) – “and,” the particle “δεν” should be placed before each verb. In that way, you can negate the meaning of both sentences.

Affirmative SentenceNegative Sentence
  • Greek: Χθες πήγαμε σινεμά και φάγαμε ποπκόρν.
  • Romanization: Htes pígame sinemá ke fágame popkórn.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, we went to the cinema and we ate popcorn.”
  • Greek: Χθες δεν πήγαμε σινεμά και δεν φάγαμε ποπκόρν.
  • Romanization: Htes den pígame sinemá ke den fágame popkórn.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, we didn’t go to the cinema and we didn’t eat popcorn.”

However, in cases like this, you may want to negate only the first or second statement. The solution is simple: Just place a “δεν” before the verb you want to negate. 

Negating the 1st StatementNegating the 2nd Statement
  • Greek: Χθες δεν πήγαμε σινεμά και φάγαμε ποπ κορν.
  • Romanization: Htes den pígame sinemá ke fágame pop korn.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, we didn’t go to the cinema and we ate popcorn.”
  • Greek: Χθες πήγαμε σινεμά και δεν φάγαμε ποπ κορν.
  • Romanization: Htes den pígame sinemá ke den fágame pop korn.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, we went to the cinema and we didn’t eat popcorn.”

2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question

A Woman Gesturing in a Negative Way

Saying no every once in a while is not a bad thing. Therefore, when you need to answer “no” to a yes-or-no question, you can simply say: 

  • Greek: Όχι.
  • Romanization: Óhi.
  • Translation: “No.”

Here’s an example: 

Greek– Θέλεις να πάμε για καφέ;
– Όχι.
Romanization– Τhélis na páme yia kafé?             
– Óhi.
Translation– “Do you want to go for a coffee?”             
– “No.”

Or if you want to be more polite, you may add the verb ευχαριστώ (efharistó) – “to thank” at the end of your response.

Greek– Θέλεις να σου φτιάξω έναν καφέ;
– Όχι, ευχαριστώ.
Romanization– Τhélis na su ftiáxo énan kafé?             
– Óhi, efharistó.
Translation– “Do you want me to make you some coffee?”             
– “No, thank you.”

Moreover, you can also repeat the verb or the statement of the question using negation instead of a simple “όχι” answer.

Greek– Είναι αυτό δικό σου;
– Όχι, δεν είναι.
Romanization– Íne aftó dikó su?
– Óhi, den íne.
Translation– “Is this yours?”
– “No, it isn’t.”

3. Negation Words and Phrases

You can also make a sentence negative in Greek by using certain words and phrases. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most common Greek negation words and phrases, along with examples. These words are normally used in combination with “δεν,” resulting in a sentence with double negatives (which we’ll discuss in the next section of this blog post).

A Girl in Winter Clothes Raising Her Hand to the Camera Indicating She Doesn’t Want to be Photographed
  • Greek: ποτέ
  • Romanization: poté
  • Translation: “never”

Greek              Δεν έχω πάει ποτέ στην Ελλάδα.
Romanization              Den ého pái poté stin Elláda.
Translation              “I have never been to Greece.” 

  • Greek: πουθενά
  • Romanization: pouthená
  • Translation: “nowhere”

Greek              Χθες έβρεχε και δεν πήγαμε πουθενά.
Romanization              Hthes évrehe ke den pígame puthená.
Translation              “Yesterday, it was raining and we didn’t go anywhere.” 

  • Greek: κανείς
  • Romanization: kanís
  • Translation: “nobody”

Greek              Κανείς δεν ήρθε στα γενέθλιά μου.
Romanization              Kanís den írthe sta yenéthliá mu.
Translation              “Nobody came on my birthday.” 

  • Greek: τίποτα
  • Romanization: típota
  • Translation: “nothing”

Greek              Τίποτα δεν θα μας χωρίσει.
Romanization              Típota den tha mas horísi.
Translation              “Nothing will tear us apart.” 

  • Greek: ούτε…ούτε
  • Romanization: úte…úte
  • Translation: “neither…nor”

Greek              Δεν μου αρέσει ούτε το κρασί, ούτε η μπύρα.
Romanization              Den mu arési úte to krasí, úte i bíra. 
Translation              “I like neither wine, nor beer.” 

Last, but not least, we couldn’t omit negative commands. Since the imperative mood in Greek (which is the mood that expresses commands) doesn’t have its own negation form, it uses the negation form of the subjunctive mood: the following particle + the verb in the subjunctive mood.

  • Greek: μη(ν)
  • Romanization: mi(n)
  • Translation: “don’t”

Greek              Η μαμά κοιμάται. Μη φωνάζεις!
Romanization              I mamá kimáte. Mi fonázis!.
Translation              “Mommy is sleeping. Don’t yell.” 

If you want to sound more polite, then simply add the verb παρακαλώ (parakaló) – “please” at the end of the negative command. 

Greek              Έχω πονοκέφαλο. Μη μιλάς δυνατά, παρακαλώ.
Romanization              Ého ponokéfalo. Mi milás dinatá, parakaló.
Translation              “I’ve got a headache. Please, don’t speak loudly.” 

“Μην” can be combined with verbs (as we saw) as well as with active voice participles, which are formed by adding an -οντας or a -ώντας suffix to a verb.

Greek              Ο ήρωας έπεσε κάτω, μην έχοντας τη δύναμη να συνεχίσει.
Romanization              O íroas épese káto, min éhondas ti dínami na sinehísi.
Translation              “The hero fell down, not having the strength to continue.” 

4. Double Negatives

A Hand Ticking the Choice No on a Questionnaire

In Greek, double negatives only create a positive statement some of the time. It really depends on the choice of words.

Here’s an example of two negations making a positive statement:

Greek              Δεν θέλω να μην κοιμάσαι.
Romanization              Den thélo na min kimáse.
Translation              “I don’t want (you) not to sleep.”
Meaning              I want you to sleep.

Nevertheless, sometimes two negations make an even more negative statement. This usually happens with negative Greek words and phrases, like the ones we presented in the previous section of this blog post.

Greek              Το βιβλίο δεν είναι πουθενά.
Romanization              To vivlío den íne puthená.
Translation              “The book is nowhere.”
Meaning              The book is (very) difficult to find.

Interestingly, in Greek there are also triple negatives formed by repeating a negation word and including the pledge particle μα (ma) – “ma,” which expresses opposition. In that way, the negation is highlighted even more. 

Greek              Κανείς, μα κανείς δεν θα το μάθει.
Romanization              Kanís, ma kanís den tha to máthi.
Translation              “Νobody, but nobody won’t learn this.”
Meaning              Nobody will find out about this.

5. Conclusion

Is there a sentence or a phrase that you find difficult to negate? Let us know in the comments below!

As you should have noticed by now, Greek negation is pretty easy to learn and use. In other languages, there are many different ways to form a negation, which often include an auxiliary verb, such as “do” or “don’t” in English. 

This is definitely a cornerstone chapter of learning Greek, as negations can be used widely in our everyday lives. With enough studying and practice, you’ll be on your way to mastering Greek negation in no time, and we’ll be here for you every step of the way.

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